Living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can make it hard to breathe, but focusing on healthy eating can make all the difference. Improving your eating habits can help you feel better and control your symptoms.
Improving your nutrition won’t cure COPD, but it does provide benefits such as fighting infections that sometimes lead to hospitalization. Plus, improving your nutritional health can also help you feel better overall.
Eating better to control COPD doesn’t have to be complicated or tedious. You can find simple ways to improve your diet and eat a variety of foods that you enjoy.
You can eat healthier when you plan what you eat and balance your meals. With the right information, you can make healthy changes that will help you improve and feel better.
The importance of nutrition with COPD
COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is a group of diseases that includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. It makes breathing difficult because it blocks the airways, but good nutrition can help.
When you eat, your metabolism converts food into oxygen, energy and carbon dioxide. You exhale the waste or carbon dioxide and use the energy in normal bodily processes and daily tasks.
The nutritional value of the foods you eat determines how much energy you get and how much carbon dioxide you remove. If you don’t have enough energy or if you don’t eat nutritious things, you won’t have the energy to get rid of carbon dioxide. When this happens and too much waste builds up, you may feel weak.
Carbohydrates produce more carbon dioxide for the amount of oxygen they use, and fats produce less. People with COPD often experience improvements in breathing when they eat fewer carbohydrates and increase healthy fats.
1 – Complex carbohydrates
Limiting carbohydrate intake is beneficial for COPD, but you can eat complex carbohydrates. They are often high in fiber, which improves digestive system function and blood sugar control. Complex carbohydrates include:
- whole wheat bread or pasta
- fresh fruits and vegetables
- checked in
- potatoes with skin
2 – Omega-3 fatty acids
Experts suggest that consuming omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce lung inflammation and reduce symptoms of COPD. The benefits are likely due to the anti-inflammatory properties that help open the airways. Research shows that diets rich in this nutrient make you less likely to suffer from chronic cough and wheeze.
Omega-3 fatty acids also contain high levels of calories, making them beneficial for those who struggle to eat enough. You can consume these essential fats in:
- atlantic mackerel
- canned light tuna
- green leafy vegetables
- flax seed
- canola oil
3 – Foods rich in fiber
Fiber is essential because it helps food move through the digestive tract. This can help you avoid constipation or bloating, which makes breathing difficult with COPD. A diet high in fiber also helps lower cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease.
If you need to increase your fiber intake, consider the following:
- legumes, including beans, peas, and lentils
- whole grains or pasta
- whole wheat bread
- complete rice
- nuts or seeds
4 – Foods rich in protein
COPD can make eating difficult, leading to loss of weight and muscle. Consuming more protein can help you strengthen your respiratory muscles and stick to your suggested calorie intake. Skipping essential protein intake can make your respiratory problems worse because it weakens your respiratory muscles.
When you want to increase your protein intake, consider the following:
- dried beans
5 – Hydrating foods
Staying hydrated helps your organs function properly. It also thins the mucus in the airways, which is essential for people with COPD, as they often suffer from overproduction of phlegm. You can stay hydrated with healthy, caffeine-free liquids, fruits, and vegetables.
Some of the most popular hydrating foods include:
6 – Potassium
Potassium improves lung function and a deficiency can lead to breathing problems. Additionally, some people with COPD take diuretics and need to increase their potassium intake. If you need to consume more potassium, you can consider consuming the following:
- dark green leafy vegetables
7 – Foods containing vitamin D
Experts say that many people with COPD suffer from vitamin D deficiency. This problem can arise because many COPD patients take steroids that interfere with the absorption of vitamin D. Also, if your shortness of breath you get tired, you may spend less time outdoors naturally absorbing vitamin D. .
If you don’t get enough vitamin D, you could develop osteoporosis. It is a common condition in people with COPD, so increasing vitamin D intake is essential.
Increasing your vitamin D intake may reduce COPD flare-ups. Taking supplements can ensure you get the suggested amount, but talk to your doctor before trying them. Dietary sources of vitamin D include the following:
- light tuna
- canned sardines
- egg yolks
- raw mushrooms
- Products fortified with vitamin D, including orange juice, milk, and yogurt
- almond milk
8 – Add monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats if you have COPD
These fats do not contain cholesterol and come from vegetable sources such as canola, safflower and corn oil. They usually become liquid at room temperature, indicating a healthy option to add to your diet. Some of the best monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats include:
- Nuts and seeds
- coconut or coconut oil
- olives and olive oil
- oily fish
Four things to avoid to cure COPD
Now that you know what to eat to improve your COPD, it’s time to learn what to avoid.
1 – Sodium
Sodium can cause bloating and increase blood pressure because it causes fluid retention. This will cause more shortness of breath and your symptoms may get worse. Here are some ideas to avoid this:
- remove salt from your table
- Use natural herbs to flavor your food
- read ingredient labels to avoid excess sodium
- do not add salt to your cooking, even when the recipe calls for it
2 – Not drinking enough fluids
Drinking water is essential to your well-being and is even more important for someone with COPD. It can thin mucus so you can get rid of it more easily.
Remember to fill a pitcher in the morning that you want to consume at the end of the day. Fill your cup with water from the pitcher to see if you’re meeting your hydration goals.
3 – Foods that cause gas or bloating
If you have COPD, it’s essential to avoid foods that cause gas and bloating. This can make you uncomfortable and make your symptoms worse. Some of the things that commonly cause swelling include:
- fried or fatty foods
- Soft drinks
- highly seasoned foods
- Brussels sprouts
4 – Alcohol and caffeine
Alcohol can interfere with necessary medications and does not add nutritional value to your diet. It can also disturb your breathing and make it difficult to cough up mucus. Caffeine can also interfere with medications, so it’s best to avoid it unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
Final Thoughts on Foods to Eat and Things to Avoid to Cure COPD
Being mindful of what you eat can help cure COPD or lessen its symptoms. Your nutrition plays a big role in how you feel and how your body works.
Consider using these tips to help you plan your meals and snacks to manage your symptoms and feel better. Remember that you need to eat multiple foods to reach your nutritional goals. You can feel good about COPD by learning what to eat and what to avoid.
By Sarah Barckley. Articles in English